When I first started weaving I was browsing the internet for an affordable loom to buy. After about a day of looking I realized I wasn't going to find one under $75, which is out of my price range, unfortunately. I ended up finding some DIY looms, but most of them still cost close to $50 to make, so I decided to figure it out myself. I remembered an article I read about New Friends, and saw in some of their pictures that they used canvas stretcher bars for their looms. I figured if it works for them, it will work for me! And I already had spare stretcher bars, so I was halfway there.
If you are new to weaving or are a seasoned weaver and just want to have your own custom loom that's quick and easy to make, this project is for you. And the supplies will cost under $20 in the end! That is, assuming you have the necessary tools to begin with. :)
What you'll need:
- Four canvas stretcher bars- you can get these at any art store, I bought mine at Blick Art Supplies and it came to about $12 for four bars. The price will vary on which bars you choose. I went with bars to make a 22"x34" loom.
- Finishing Nails- I could only find ones that were 1.5" in length because there weren't any shorter ones, but I wouldn't go any shorter than 1". You can find these at any hardware store for under $2.
- Drill-a small hand drill with a 5/64in drill bit will work just fine
- Tape Measure
- Four wood screws -or- a staple gun (I recommend staple gun)
- A companion or two
Now you're ready to make your loom!
Step 1: Frame It Out
The nice thing about using canvas stretcher bars is that they're made to fit right into one another, so go ahead and put those bad boys together.
Step 2: Secure the Corners
This is where a staple gun comes in handy. I made this frame a long time ago before knowing I was going to use it for a loom (it was fate, I know) so I used wood screws to hold the corners in place. They worked just fine, but I used a staple gun on a larger loom I made a few months ago and it's much easier and more efficient. If you're using a staple gun, just shoot a couple of them over the gap to connect the two pieces.
Step 3: Measure
I measured 2" in from the sides of each of the shorter bars and 1" in from the top just to avoid any collision with the gap where the bars meet. Once you have those set and marked up, just measure and mark every 1/2" along the bar until you have enough to span the width of the loom.
Step 4: Make Pilot Holes
This step is very important. I know from experience that if you skip this step, the wood will split and the nails won't be secure. Take your drill with the 5/64in drill bit and make small pilot holes at each of the spots you have marked. This is a tedious step but well worth it! Be sure not to drill too far in or your nails won't set correctly.
Step 5: Nails Nails Nails
You're almost there! The final step....pound those nails in. After setting the pilot holes, you're ready to get the nails in there. They aren't going to be perfectly straight, so don't worry about that. All that matters is that you get them in their spots securely without splitting the wood. This is where having a companion or two helps. Since you're spending this time making something for yourself that you will clearly cherish forever, why not have someone to help you pass the time? In my case, it was my boyfriend and my cat Floyd.
Step 6: Relax!
You've done a lot of work getting this loom together. Now it's time to bask in your own glory. Go on with your bad self! You just saved a good chunk of change and you're going to weave on a loom you made all on your own. Well done!
If you have any questions regarding this process, feel free to send me a message on my Contact page!